STRATEGIES OF ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION:
AN EMPIRICAL TEST OF VAN MAANEN'S TYPOLOGY OF
PEOPLE PROCESSING TACTICS
H. EUGENE BAKER, III
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
. .: .-Mf
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries with support from Lyrasis and the Sloan Foundation
As I began writing this section, I realized how inadequate this
forum is when attempting to recognize the contributions of the many
individuals who assisted me in this process. The space available is
insufficient to fully acknowledge all of their support. Given the
limitation of space, and the inadequacies of the written word, the reader
is cautioned that the following is only a beginning attempt at that
I begin by acknowledging the contribution of my dissertation
chairman, Daniel C. Feldman. Daniel shared his expertise, his drive, and
his support. I am grateful for his patience and encouragement,
especially during the more trying times. H. Joseph Reitz and Lawrence J.
Severy, the other members of my committee, were also especially
supportive and introduced me to different perspectives. Their direction
and suggestions were valuable, especially during the formative stages. I
thank all three members for their timely and responsive feedback.
I wish to thank my typist, Leanna Payne, for her timely and
professional attention to the preparation of the manuscript. Eric
Reinhardt was an invaluable help in conducting the statistical analysis
and with his knowledge of the computer systems. I also wish to
acknowledge my colleagues at the University of North Florida, and
especially Robert Pickhardt, for allowing me to experience the
"socialization" process at its best. They all have been supportive
throughout my research and during my initiation to the classroom.
The organizations that participated in the research must, by
agreement, remain anonymous. I wish to thank their managements and all
of their employees for their contribution to the research.
Finally, I wish to thank my family. My wife, Shirley, and my sons,
Jeff and Scott, were a constant source of support and understanding.
Their faith in my efforts helped beyond measure during some especially
trying periods. I can never hope to fully acknowledge their role in my
completion of this research project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. . . ... ....... .ii
LIST OF TABLES . . . vi
LIST OF FIGURES . . . vii
ABSTRACT . . ... .... viii
1 INTRODUCTION . . ... .. 1
Socialization Defined . . 1
Types of Socialization. . 4
People Processing Strategies. . 8
Socialization Outcomes. . ... 20
2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY . .... 29
Total Sample. . . .. 29
Research Settings . . 30
Organizational Entry and Data Collection Procedures 32
Instruments and Measures. . 36
Organization and Job Category Statistics. .. 47
3 RESULTS. . . . 55
People Processing Strategy Correlations ...... 55
Attitudinal Outcomes Correlations .... ... 59
Relationships Between Individual Processing
Strategies and Outcomes . .... .62
Cluster Analysis Results. . ... .64
Discriminant Analysis Results . .... .65
4 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS . 71
Relationships Among the People Processing Strategies. 71
Relationships Between the People Processing
Strategies and Attitudinal Outcomes ... 79
Methodological Issues . . 82
Organizational Implications . .... .87
REFERENCES. . . ... ........ .92
A COVER LETTER . . .. ... ... 100
B QUESTIONNAIRE PARTS I & II . 102
C QUESTIONNAIRE PART III (ALPHA UTILITY) . 109
D QUESTIONNAIRE PART III (BETA NAVAL SQUADRON) .... 111
E QUESTIONNAIRE PART III (GAMMA BILLING SERVICE) ..... .113
F QUESTIONNAIRE PART III (DELTA CLINIC). ... 115
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . ... ..... 116
LIST OF TABLES
People Processing Strategies. . .. 11
Outcome Variables . . .
Sample Distribution by Age . .
Job Category Distribution . . .
Time in Organization . . .
Time on Job . . .
Comparison of Jones Data to Current Research on
Independent Variable Scales . .
People Processing Strategies Scale Reliabilities .
Items Statistics for People Processing Strategies .
Attitudinal Outcomes Scale Reliabilities . .
Item Statistics for Attitudinal Outcomes . .
People Processing Strategies by Organization .
Attitudinal Outcomes by Organization . .
People Processing Strategies by Job Category .
Attitudinal Outcomes by Job Category . .
Correlations Among People Processing Strategies .
Correlations Among Attitudinal Outcomes . .
Correlations Between People Processing Strategies and
Attitudinal Outcomes . . .
Cluster Analysis--People Processing Strategies Mean
Scores. . . . .
Discriminant Analysis--Attitudinal Outcomes Mean Scores .
LIST OF FIGURES
3-1 Cluster Analysis.......... .......... .67
3-2 Discriminant Analysis. ..... . 70
4-1 Organizational Categorization . .... 75
4-2 Job Categorization......... .......... .75
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
STRATEGIES OF ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION:
AN EMPIRICAL TEST OF VAN MAANEN'S TYPOLOGY OF
PEOPLE PROCESSING TACTICS
H. Eugene Baker, III
Chairman: Daniel C. Feldman
Major Department: Organizational Behavior and Business Policy
The dissertation empirically examines the people processing
socialization strategies employed by organizations and how these tactics
impact individual attitudinal responses. Two major purposes of the
research project were to (1) empirically test the existence of, and
relationships among, the people processing strategies posited by John Van
Maanen, and (2) determine the associations between the strategies
employed and certain relevant individual attitudinal responses.
A questionnaire was used to collect data from over five hundred
employees employed by four diverse organizations. Different organization
types were selected to provide a substantial cross-section of tasks and
functions. The organizations in the survey included a military unit, a
utility, a health care facility and a billing service. Over twenty job
classifications were included, ranging from entry level to management and
from unskilled to highly technical and professional. The data were
analyzed using correlational analysis, cluster analysis, and discriminant
The results of the research suggest a high level of
interrelationship among the people processing strategies. Two clusters
of people processing strategies were identified: unit and batch.
Further, systematic relationships were found between these patterns of
processing strategies and clusters of attitudinal measures.
Recommendations for organizational socialization programs are
suggested in light of the findings of the research. It is specifically
suggested that organizations can play a major role in achieving desired
employee socialization outcomes by consciously selecting patterns of
processing that are compatible with competitive strategies.
The purpose of this dissertation is to empirically examine the
strategies employed by organizations to socialize newcomers into the
organization and to determine how these strategies impact the
individual's behavior and attitudes towards the organization. The first
section formally defines the concept of socialization in the
organizational context. The second section explores the various types of
socialization strategies or processes that may be employed by the
organization in its attempt to transform the new employee. In the third
section the current status of research on the socialization process is
delineated and evaluated and the emphasis of the current dissertation is
explored. The final section discusses the predicted outcomes of the
socialization process and concludes by examining the impact of
socialization strategies on the outcomes.
The current research deals specifically with the socialization
process as it applies to the organization and as such requires a
definition specific to this setting. Caplow (1964) defined socialization
as an organizationally directed process that prepares and qualifies
individuals to occupy organizational positions. Brim (1966) viewed
socialization as the manner in which an individual learns that behavior
appropriate to his position in a group through interaction with others
who hold normative beliefs about what his role should be and who reward
or punish him for correct or incorrect actions. Feldman (1976)
identifies organizational socialization as the process by which
individuals are transformed from total outsiders of companies to
participating, effective members of them. The teaching and learning of
organizational expectations has also been referred to as "learning the
ropes" or "breaking in" (Schein, 1968; Van Maanen, 1976a).
The attributes or characteristics of the socialization process have
been succinctly identified by Feldman (1976, 1980, 1988). Feldman
identifies the three most salient characteristics of organizational
socialization as: (1) continuity of socialization over time, (2) changes
of attitudes, values and behaviors and (3) as a multiple socialization
Continuity of socialization over time refers to the ongoing nature
of the process. As Feldman notes, "organizational socialization does not
occur in the first weeks on the job, but is achieved more slowly over a
period of weeks and months" (1988, p. 78). Continuity of the process
recognizes that socialization usually begins before the newcomer actually
enters the organization. The process continues during actual entry and
during the critical period of time (Van Maanen, 1976a; Berlew & Hall,
1966) the individual is adjusting to their new organization. The
process, therefore, is in operation continuously beginning at
"anticipatory socialization" (Feldman, 1976) or "pre-arrival" stage
(Porter, Lawler, & Hackman, 1975), through the "accommodation" (Feldman,
1976) or "encounter" stage (Porter, Lawler, & Hackman, 1975), and
continuing to the stages of "role management" (Feldman, 1976) or "change
and acquisition" (Porter, Lawler, & Hackman, 1975).
A second common theme in these definitions is that the socialization
process involves learning and change (Fisher, 1986). The process
includes learning and change on the part of the new employee as well as
learning and change on the part of the organization. Fisher (1986) has
summarized some of the learning that occurs during the socialization
process and identifies four categories: learning about the organization,
learning to function in the work group, learning to do the job and
Change is also noted as a common element in the definitions of
organizational socialization; change occurring in the individual in the
areas of attitudes, values and behaviors (Van Maanen, 1975) and in the
form of self-image and levels of involvement (Caplow, 1964). Feldman
(1981) distinguishes between three distinct views of change by
identifying socialization as a process of acquisition, development, and
The third characteristic of the socialization process is what
Feldman (1981) refers to as "multiple socialization." This
characteristic recognizes the multi-dimensional character of the process.
Multiple socialization incorporates three views of the changes that occur
during organization socialization; "socialization as the acquisition of a
set of appropriate role behaviors; socialization as the development of
work skills and abilities; and, socialization as adjustment to the work
group's norms and values" (1981, p. 309). Multiple socialization
reflects the simultaneous nature of the process of socialization, and as
Feldman indicates, "as employees are learning their job, they are also
establishing new interpersonal relationships and learning their way
around the organization" (1988, p. 78).
Types of Socialization
Organizational socialization has typically been viewed as a series
of steps or phases (Feldman, 1976; Porter, Lawler, & Hackman, 1975;
Schein, 1978; Van Maanen, 1976a; Wanous, Reichers, & Malik, 1984). A
typical stage model includes three phases, variously described as
"anticipatory," "encounter," and "metamorphosis" (Feldman, 1976, 1980).
These models reflect a passage through the organization that begins prior
to entry into the organization and continues throughout the relationship.
Conventional approaches to organizational socialization processes
have centered on developing typologies which describe activities that
take place during socialization. For example, Wanous (1980) has
identified five types of strategies that may be found in an organization
socialization process. These include training, education,
apprenticeship, debasement, and cooptation/seduction strategies. There
is present in these types of strategies a heavy reliance on the
"training" aspects of socialization. Schein (1964) identified strategies
typically used by organizations in their attempt to train new employees.
These strategies included the sink or swim approach, the upending
experience, job rotation and full-time training. Again, the emphasis is
on the training that takes place as the organization attempts to educate
the new employee.
As previously indicated, Feldman (1981) developed a comprehensive
model which integrates the activities that occur in the organizational
socialization process. Feldman expands upon his earlier work (Feldman,
1976) by considering the multiple nature of the socialization process.
An integral part of Feldman's model is the identification and integration
of three views of the changes that occur during socialization in the
organization context: learning the role, learning the job, and learning
about the group.
Acquisition of Role Behaviors
The first view of socialization as the acquisition of appropriate
role behaviors focuses on the individuals' attempts to clarify the
demands of their new roles. As suggested by Feldman, "during the first
few weeks and months, employees try to define exactly what tasks they
have to do, what the priorities are among these tasks, and how they are
to allocate their work time" (1981, p. 312). In this view, the new
employee is attempting to reduce the tension and anxiety that occurs as
the result of exposure to a new situation (Lewin, 1951; Louis, 1980).
Expectations play an important part in this attempt to define the role
requirements. Feldman signifies this important aspect by noting that
"the more realistic the picture that employees have of their jobs, the
easier it should be for them to discover what is and is not expected at
work," and that "employees who feel that they have incomplete or
incorrect information will have a much more difficult time sorting out
exactly what they are supposed to be doing" (1981, p. 312).
Also involved in this first view is the resolution of conflict. Two
aspects are important in this regard. The first is the individual's
attempt to manage intergroup role conflicts, that is, conflicts "between
the immediate work group and other groups in the organization" (1981, p.
312). Expectations are equally as important in this effort as indicated
by Feldman's comment that "employees with realistic expectations about
the organization are more likely to be aware of potential role conflicts
when they accept the new job" (1981, p. 312).
A second area requiring conflict resolution is that of outside-life
conflicts. This includes conflicts relating to work schedules, demands
on the family and the quality of home life. Additional pressure is
experienced by the employee who has failed to effectively manage this
conflict. Realistic expectations are again important in this conflict
management as they can allow the employee to evaluate or at least
anticipate the amount of conflict that might be expected in this area.
As Feldman points out, "employees with realistic expectations about the
organization are more likely to choose an organization where at least the
major potential conflicts between personal life and work life can be
avoided" (1981, p. 313).
Development of Work Skills and Abilities
A critical activity in the socialization process involves the
ability of the individual to develop the skills necessary to become an
effective performer. The criticality of this event is highlighted by
Feldman when he proposes that "no matter how motivated the employee,
without enough job skills there is little chance of success" (1981, p.
313). Problems can occur with either too little skill (Dunnette, 1966;
Smith, 1968) or too much skill or overqualification (Dunnette, Arvey, &
Banas, 1973; Berlew & Hall, 1966).
Realistic expectations can play a major role in increasing the
likelihood of skill congruence (Feldman, 1981). Realistic job previews,
for example, may assist in facilitating a closer match between the
requirements of the job and the skills and abilities of the newcomer.
Acquisition of Group Norms and Values
Feldman's third view focuses on the newcomer's attempts to learn the
values and norms of the work group. The impact of the work group on the
socialization process can be significant (Van Maanen, 1978). The work
group can serve as a support system (Dornbush, 1955) and provide
"protection" for the new employee (Becker, Geer, Hughes, & Strauss, 1961)
as they encounter the realities of organization membership. The critical
nature of the relationship between newcomers and their work groups is
unquestioned. As Feldman suggests, "initiation to the group is a major
determinant of adjustment to group norms and values" and "the work group
is a particularly important factor in determining how closely new
recruits adjust to group norms and values" (1981, p. 314).
The task of learning the group's norms and values may present the
most difficulty for the newcomer because of differences between the group
culture and the culture of the larger organization of which it is a part
(Louis, 1983). This activity was found to be a source of frustration to
new employees (Moreland & Levine, 1982) and an important but difficult
task for newcomers (Schein, 1978). This experience with the realities of
the work group along with cues from co-workers (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978)
may result in personal learning on the part of the newcomer as they
develop a clearer picture of their own needs and expectations (Kotter,
1973; Louis, 1980).
Louis, Posner, and Powell (1983) surveyed recent business school
graduates to determine the types of techniques employed by organizations
in their socialization programs. The three most important socialization
aids identified by Louis et al. were interaction with peers, supervisors
and senior co-workers; of the three, daily interactions with peers while
working was the most important factor in helping newcomers to feel
effective. As Louis et al. (1983) point out, this factor is particularly
important in terms of the processes by which the new employee truly
learns what the organization is like. These findings are consistent with
those of Feldman in terms of the salience of the role of the immediate
work group in helping new recruits adjust socially. It is this social
adjustment process or the learning of a new culture that requires the
newcomer to assimilate the unofficial rules for sorting, labeling, and
interpreting experiences in the organization (Louis et al., 1983). Louis
further notes that it is these unwritten rules that are important in
providing cues for effective membership in the organization.
The critical importance of the newcomer's ability to adjust to the
work group has been discussed by Feldman (1977, 1988). Feldman (1977)
found a strong relationship between adjustment to the work group and the
individual's ability to learn their job. The work group provides support
in dealing with the stress associated with transition (Feldman & Brett,
1983), provides feedback on performance (Hackman, 1976) and helps the
newcomer to "make sense" of the confusing information or cues encountered
during this period (Louis, 1980). One additional impact of the work
group is the facilitating effect that interaction with insiders may have
on the rate at which the socialization process progresses (Reichers,
Given the significant impact of this relationship, it is important
to explore the ways in which organizations conduct their socialization
efforts or "process" their new employees.
People Processing Strategies
A question of critical importance remaining to be thoroughly
examined is what specific strategies or processes do organizations employ
in their socialization efforts and what the impacts of these approaches
are. Van Maanen has provided a point of departure in his exploration of
organizational socialization as a "people processing" activity (Van
Maanen, 1978; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). Van Maanen defines
organizational socialization or "people processing" as "the manner in
which the experiences of people learning the ropes of a new
organizational position, status, or role are structured for them by
others in the organization" (1978, p. 19). Van Maanen's basic premise is
that differences in the acquisition of social knowledge and skills are
not entirely due to individual differences alone. He posits that it is
differences in the techniques or strategies employed by the organization
that cause differential results in the acquisition process.
Van Maanen bases his examination on three basic underlying
assumptions. The first assumption recognizes the tension or anxiety
associated with a transition process. Change creates anxiety in
individuals as they seek to restore a sense of balance or equilibrium.
Unmet or unanticipated expectations serve to heighten the level of
anxiety for the individual undergoing the change (Festinger, 1957).
Efforts are directed at removing or at least reducing the level of
uncertainty (Lewin, 1951), and as suggested by Louis (1980), engaging in
"sense-making" in an unfamiliar and novel environment. The impact of
stress during this time of transition can be substantial and critical to
many aspects of the individual's future in the organization (Beehr &
Bhagat, 1985; Cooper & Marshall, 1977).
The second assumption underlying Van Maanen's work centers on the
individual's effort to obtain information and guidance relative to their
new role. This emphasizes the social context of the learning process and
highlights the impact and importance of the relationships that develop
with co-workers. This assumption acknowledges the importance of social
support during the learning or transitional stage (Sykes & Eden, 1985;
Seers, McGee, Serey, & Graen, 1983; Pilisuk & Parks, 1981; Nelson, 1987).
As Van Maanen suggests "the learning that takes place does not occur in a
social vacuum strictly on the basis of the official and available
versions of the job requirements" (1978, p. 20).
Stability and productivity of the organization are the concerns in
the third assumption. Here the implication is that the socialization
processes of the organization impact the organization's performance.
Although the precise relationship between the socialization process and
organization performance is not clear (Schein, 1968, 1971; Van Maanen &
Schein, 1979; Katz, 1985; Feldman, 1976, 1981, 1984; Louis, 1980) the
relationship is obviously important and in need of further research and
Building upon the assumptions described above, Van Maanen identified
seven strategies of people processing that may occur in an organization's
socialization process. These strategies should be thought of as a
continuum, that is, "each strategy as applied can be thought of as
existing somewhere between two poles of a single dimension" (1978, p.
22). It is therefore possible to view each strategy as a pair of
strategies representing each end of the continuum. The seven strategies
are presented in Table 1-1. Each pair of strategies is discussed in more
The primary differentiation between formal and informal strategies
focuses on the setting in which the newcomer's learning takes place.
Formal strategies or processes are typically segregated from the specific
People Processing Strategies
Strategy Pair 1:
1. Formal Strategies The degree to which the setting in which the
socialization process takes place is segregated from the ongoing
work content and the degree to which an individual newcomer role is
emphasized and made explicit.
2. Informal Strategies The degree to which there is no sharp
differentiation from other organizational members and much of the
recruit's learning takes place within the social and task-related
networks that surround his or her position.
Strategy Pair 2:
1. Individual Strategies The degree to which individuals are
socialized singly, analogous to unit modes of production.
2. Collective Strategies The degree to which individuals are
socialized collectively, analogous to batch or mass production modes
Strategy Pair 3:
1. Sequential Strategies The degree to which the transitional
processes are marked by a series of discrete and identifiable stages
through which an individual must pass in order to achieve a defined
role and status within the organization.
2. Nonsequential Strategies The degree to which the socialization
processes are accomplished in one transitional stage.
Strategy Pair 4:
1. Fixed Strategies The degree to which the recruit is provided with
a precise knowledge of the time it will take him to complete a given
2. Variable Strategies The degree to which the recruit is not
provided with any advance notice of their transition timetable.
Strategy Pair 5:
1. Serial Strategies The degree to which experienced members groom
newcomers about to assume similar roles in the organization.
2. Disjunctive Strategies The degree to which a newcomer does not
have predecessors available in whose footsteps he can follow.
Strategy Pair 6:
1. Investiture Strategies The degree to which the socialization
processes ratify and establish the viability and usefulness of the
characteristics the person already possesses. The degree to which
the socialization processes confirm the incoming identity of a
2. Divestiture Strategies The degree to which the socialization
processes deny and strip away certain entering characteristics of a
recruit. The degree to which the socialization processes dismantle
the incoming identity of a newcomer.
Strategy Pair 7:
1. Tournament The practices of separating selected clusters of
recruits into different socialization programs or tracks on the
basis of presumed differences in ability, ambition, or background.
2. Contest The channels of movement through the various socialization
programs are kept open and depend on the observed abilities and
stated interests of all.
work place and are explicit in terms of skill requirements and behavioral
expectations. Formal strategies "stress general skills and attitudes"
and "work on preparing a person to occupy a particular status in the
organization" (1978, p. 22).
In the informal process, much of the learning occurs at the work
position. Informal strategies "emphasize specified actions, situational
application of the rules, and the idiosyncratic nuances necessary to
perform the role in the work setting" and "prepare a person to perform a
specific role in an organization" (1978, p. 22).
The type of information transmitted in a formal setting is typically
what one would expect to encounter in a formal orientation program;
rules, procedures and policies. The informal process or "on-the-job"
exposure would appear to serve the purpose of transmitting some of the
subtle expectations of the work group. The strategy employed has
implications on the nature of the information transmitted and on the
levels of stress experienced by the newcomer. And, as reported by Louis
et al. (1983) a majority of the organization studied relied upon formal
onsite orientation programs.
This strategy ranges from individual to collective processing of the
new employees. At the individual end of the continuum, the new employee
is socialized singly or in Van Maanen's words, "analogous to the unit
modes of production" (1978, p. 24). In the collective process or
strategy, socialization involves a "batch" of new employees undergoing
the experience as a group. Van Maanen views the collective strategy as
similar to batch or mass production in that "recruits are bunched
together at the outset and processed through an identical set of
experiences," (1978, p. 24).
As might be anticipated, the outcomes associated with each end of
the continuum differ in several respects. Those differences include
changes that occur both in the individual and in the group.
It is important to note at this point the extensive use of
collective processes in organizations in today's environment. As Van
Maanen indicates, individual processes that reflect an apprenticeship
style of socialization are costly. Collective strategies have become the
strategy of choice because of their ease, efficiency, and predictability.
The distinction here is whether the process follows a set of phases
or stages or if the entire process is accomplished in one step. Job
rotation of increasing levels of responsibility or authority would be
indicative of a sequential process of socialization. The passage may or
may not be marked by some ceremony or acknowledgement of progress similar
to the "rites of passage" or many of the ceremonial recognition of
acceptance (Van Maanen & Schein, 1979; Feldman, 1977; Schein, 1978).
Nonsequential strategies are accomplished in one step. The amount of
structure and the number of steps or stages involved in the sequential
strategy may have differential effects on the new employee. Of equal, if
not more impact, is the differences in the agent or agents who are
charged with handling the different steps (Van Maanen, 1978).
The continuum addressed by this pair of strategies is that of time.
If the process is marked by distinct steps, as in the sequential process,
the question becomes the length of time required to move from step to
step. If a nonsequential, or one-step program is in place, the length of
time required to transit the entire socialization program is the concern.
The length of time it takes for the socialization process to be
completed has obvious implications for the levels of anxiety and stress
experienced by the newcomer. Van Maanen acknowledges this impact by
stating that "time is an important resource that can be used to control
others" (1978, p. 39). The control of the time interval becomes a
manipulation instrument that can "give an administrator a powerful tool
for influencing individual behavior" (1978, p. 29) while also risking
"creating an organization situation marked by confusion and uncertainty
among those concerned with their movement in the system" (1978, p. 29).
The uncertainty associated with the variable strategy obviously does not
help in diminishing or alleviating the anxiety and tension felt by the
This strategy reflects the extent to which the newcomer has
available a current organization member to provide direction and receive
cues from regarding appropriate behavior. Disjunctive strategies reflect
an absence of an organizational model. Predecessors create a path which
the newcomer can follow. Without a predecessor, the new employee is
forced to forge his/her own organizational path. Whether the path
selected is the one the organization favors is left up to chance to a
certain degree. "Whereas the social process risks stagnation and
contamination," Van Maanen suggests, "the disjunctive process risks
complication and confusion" (1978, p. 32). As with the other strategies
discussed so far, the outcomes differ with each end of the strategy
The impact of this particular strategy is highlighted by the work of
Louis et al. (1983). The availability of current employees was deemed
especially helpful in the socialization experience of the newcomer and
significantly affected certain behavioral characteristics.
The process involved here reflects the manner in which the
organization accepts or denies the "identity" of the newcomer. According
to Van Maanen, "investiture processes ratify and establish the viability
and usefulness of the characteristics the person already possess," while
"divestiture processes, on the other hand, deny and strip away certain
entering characteristics of a recruit" (1978, p. 33). An extreme example
of the divestiture process occurs in military boot camp. In this
situation, the new recruit or "boot" is totally stripped of their
incoming identity including the total removal of hair and the issuing of
a simple green uniform without identification. "Boots" are referred to
by number or some other non-specific identification. The attempt here is
to "begin with a clean slate" and to rebuild the recruit in the image
desired by the organization.
Investiture processes focus on the acceptability of the newcomer
where every effort is made to make the transition as easy and comfortable
for the new employee as is possible. It is obvious that these two
extremes elicit much different responses on the part of the newcomer.
The organizational outcomes may be as equally divergent.
The extent to which a "track" is present in the organizational
socialization process is reflected in this people processing strategy.
Personal differences in ability, background or ambition are the basis for
selection into different programs or tracks (Van Maanen, 1978). Once a
new employee is assigned to a particular track, progress is chartered
according to the levels achieved along that track. Although there are
some conflicting findings in relation to the long-term effects of a
tournament strategy (Forbes, 1987) in general, failure at any point along
the track results in removal from future consideration.
The contest end of the continuum is not as narrow in viewpoint as
the tournament approach in that "the channels of movement through the
various socialization programs are kept open and depend on the observed
abilities and stated interests of all" (1978, p. 30). Rosenbaum further
clarifies the distinction between the strategies by stating that "contest
mobility systems delay selection and allow individuals complete freedom
for mobility, and thus are totally ahistorical" while, on the other hand,
"in the tournament mobility model, careers are conceptualized as a
sequence of competitions, each of which has implications for an
individual's mobility chances in all subsequent selections" (1979, pp.
Van Maanen and Schein acknowledge the impact of the strategies by
indicating that "regardless of the method of choice, any given
socialization device represents an identifiable set of events that will
make certain behavioral and attitudinal consequences more likely than
others" (1979, p. 230). Although Van Maanen did not empirically examine
the presence or impact of the various processing strategies, he did
hypothesize relationships that may occur in terms of organizational
boundary passage. He suggested how various combinations of the
strategies could result in differential responses on the part of the new
employee. Van Maanen and Schein suggest the speculative nature of these
relationships by acknowledging that "these dimensions or processes were
deduced logically from empirical observations and from accounts found in
the social science literature" (1979, p. 232) and further, "we do not
assert here that this list is exhaustive or that the processes are
presented in any order or relevance to a particular organization or
occupation" (1979, p. 232). Van Maanen and Schein, however, do "attempt
to demonstrate that these tactics are quite common to a given boundary
passage and of substantial consequence to people in the organization in
that they partially determine the degree to which the response of the
newcomer will be custodial or innovative" (1979, p. 232). The need
remains for a comprehensive empirical analysis that is directed at
determining the extent to which the various strategies operate in an
organizational setting and whether they operate in combination or
The current study will attempt to explore, in detail, the
considerations identified above. The study will empirically examine the
extent of the relationships among the strategies, that is, the extent to
which they operate independently and/or co-occur in some predictable
One of the few attempts to empirically explore the impact of various
socialization strategies on the attitudes and performance of new
employees was conducted by Jones (1986). Using a sample of one hundred
and two (102) MBA graduates, Jones "investigated the relationship between
the socialization tactics employed by organizations and a series of role
and personal outcomes" (1986, p. 262). The subjects completed a
questionnaire designed to assess Van Maanen's (1978) typology of
strategies approximately five (5) months after joining their
organization. An initial questionnaire was completed prior to entry into
the hiring organizations which assessed levels of self-efficacy. The
subjects had been hired by ninety-six (96) diverse organizations located
in the Sunbelt.
Jones found three clusters of strategies. These were: (1)
investiture vs. divestiture and serial vs. disjunctive; (2) serial vs.
random and fixed vs. variable; and (3) collective vs. individual and
formal vs. informal. Jones further concluded that the results of his
study "reveal a pattern of relationships between tactics and outcomes
supporting the proposition that different socialization tactics lead to
different outcomes of socialization" (1986, p. 274).
The current research differs from the work of Jones in at least two
major ways. The first difference relates to the composition of the
sample. Jones' research utilized "MBA students from two successive
annual graduating classes of a major midwestern university" (1986, p.
267). His sample of 102 was comprised of 73 men and 29 women with an
average age of 24.7 years. As suggested by Feldman (1988) there are
significant changes that occur as an individual moves from the student
role to the organizational role. Not only are there differences between
the student environment and the work world (Kotter, 1975; Hall, 1976) but
as noted by Feldman "their expectations are often way too high, and all
too frequently based on faulty stereotypes or little hard data" (1988, p.
The current research uses a sample of over five hundred individuals
ranging from blue collar to managerial, with the majority falling into
the 25-34 year age range. Over fifty (50) percent of the subjects had
been employed by their organization from two to five years compared with
Jones' five month length of service. An additional consideration in this
regard is the number (96) of employing organizations in the Jones study.
The current study focused on four (4) diverse organizations each
employing a relatively large proportion of the total sample. It is
anticipated that the current study will provide data more applicable to
the working world and less influenced by the impact of the student role.
The further test of a theory of socialization lies in its
applicability to the "real world" or actual organizational settings. Van
Maanen and Schein recognize this imperative by stating "on examining real
organizations, it is empirically obvious that these tactical dimensions
are associated with one another and that the actual impact of
organizational socialization upon a recruit is a cumulative one, the
result of a combination of socialization tactics which perhaps enhance
and reinforce or conflict and neutralize each other" (1979, p. 253).
They (Van Maanen & Schein) go on to conclude that "we do not consider
this a completed theory in that we do not as yet have enough empirical
evidence to determine in a more tightly arranged and logical scheme how
the various socialization tactics can be more or less ordered in terms of
their effects upon recruits being initiated into organizational roles"
(1979, p. 255). Unlike Jones, this dissertation examines the role of
clusters of socialization tactics.
The second area of difference between this study and the Jones work
relates to the attempt to determine the impact of strategies on the
attitudinal outcomes. Jones' study examines the direct individual
relationship between each processing strategy and several outcomes. This
approach is incomplete in two ways. First, it is important to fully
examine the interrelationships between all strategies to determine
whether they do in fact operate independently or in combination.
Secondly, we need to know what the effects of those combinations are on a
full array of outcomes. The second question to be asked here, then, is:
Are the combinations or patterns of attitudinal outcomes associated with
various patterns of processing strategies?
The discussion of outcomes of socialization is almost as diverse as
are the different approaches to the subject. The criteria or measurement
of socialization results seem to vary according to the emphasis of the
researcher. As Fisher has concluded, "writers who describe the outcomes
of socialization in conceptual papers seem to identify a somewhat
different set than those who operationally measure 'outcomes' for the
sake of having a criterion" (1986, p. 110). The conceptual writers seem
to stress "learning and internalization of norms and values," while the
empirical emphasis is on attitudinal measures (1986, p. 110). Feldman
further points out the differences in approach by stating that
"researchers in the study of organizational socialization have been torn
between studying outcomes of the process which accrue to individuals and
outcomes which accrue to organizations" (1976, p. 26).
Edgar Schein has been prominent in the effort to conceptually
describe the outcomes of socialization. Schein (1968) predicts the
effect upon the degree of innovation that may be present as a result of
the degree of acceptance of the pivotal and relevant norms of the
organization. Schein (1985) indicates that
when the socialization process does not work
optimally, when the new member does not learn the
culture of the work groups, there are usually severe
consequences. At one extreme, if the new employee
does not learn the pivotal or central assumptions of
the organization, that employee usually feels
alienated, uncomfortable, and possibly unproductive.
If the new employee learns elements of a subculture
that seems contrary to the pivotal assumptions of the
total organization, the result can be active
sabotage, or the slowing down of the work of the
organization, leading eventually to stagnation,
revolution, or the weeding out of the dissidents.
(1985, p. 42)
Problems can arise if the socialization process is too extensive. Again,
Schein points out that "at the other extreme, if the employee is
'oversocialized' in the sense of learning every detail of the host
culture, the result is total conformity, leading to inability on the part
of the organization to be innovative and responsive to new environmental
demands" (1985, p. 43). Schein suggests that some median level of
socialization is optimal in creating what he refers to as "creative
individualism." Creative individualism is characterized by a conformity
to the pivotal norms of the organization with selective conformity to the
other less important or relevant norms. The hypothesized result of
creative individualism is a relatively high level of innovative behavior
on the part of the individual (Schein, 1968).
Van Maanen and Schein (1979) hypothesized responses to the "people
processing strategies" posited by Van Maanen (1978). They discussed the
impact of the strategies in terms of the role acquisition of the
newcomer. Custodianship was identified as a possible response to
socialization efforts. Custodianship implies an acceptance of the status
quo. The newcomer assumes a caretaker posture in the role. No attempts
are made to change or alter the role. This response is similar to
Schein's "conformity" (Schein, 1968). This response to socialization is
most likely to occur from a socialization process which is sequential,
variable, serial and involves divestiture (Van Maanen & Schein, 1979).
The second type of response to socialization identified by Van
Maanen and Schein (1979) is called content innovation. Content
innovation is "marked by the development of substantive improvements or
changes in the knowledge base or strategic practices of a particular
role" (1979, p. 228). An attempt is made by the newcomer to
significantly change or alter the role definition, not unlike Schein's
rebellion or creative individualism response (Schein, 1968). Content
innovation responses are likely to result through a socialization process
that is collective, formal, random, fixed and disjunctive (Van Maanen &
The third response is role innovation. While similar to content
innovation, role innovation attempts to fundamentally change the mission
of the role itself. Schein (1971) refers to this response as a genuine
attempt to redefine the ends to which the role functions. Role
innovation is most likely to result from a process that is individual,
informal, random, disjunctive and involves investiture (Van Maanen &
Van Maanen (1978) has posited the impact of the processing
strategies on individual behavioral outcomes. Van Maanen (1978) suggests
if we are interested in strategies that promote a
relatively high degree of similarity in the thoughts
and actions of recruits and their agents, a
combination of the formal, serial, and divestiture
strategies would probably be most effective. If
dissimilarity is desired, informal, disjunctive and
investiture strategies would be preferable. To
produce a relatively passive group of hard-working
but undifferentiated recruits, the combination of
formal, collective, sequential, tournament, and
divestiture strategies should be used. (p. 35)
As has been indicated, empirical examinations of these outcomes have been
limited (Fisher, 1986).
At a more molecular level, the empirical research that has been
directed at the socialization process has tended to rely on attitudinal
measures (Fisher, 1986). Attitudinal measures utilized have included
general job satisfaction (Feldman, 1976; Toffler, 1981; and Louis et al.,
1983), job tension (Toffler, 1981) and internal work motivation, job
involvement and mutual influence (Toffler, 1981; Feldman, 1976). Another
primary outcome appears to relate to the individual's level of commitment
(Louis et al., 1983; Jones, 1986; Wanous, 1980) or intentions of
remaining with the organization (Feldman, 1981; Van Maanen, 1975; Brief,
Aldag, Van Sell, & Malone, 1979; Hall & Schneider, 1972). The outcome
variables that will be used to assess the relationships described above
are listed in Table 1-2.
In order to more fully understand the impact of a selected
socialization strategy on employee attitudes, it is appropriate to
speculate upon the impact of individual people processing strategies on
the anticipated outcomes.
Formal vs. Informal
It would appear that a formal process of socialization would have
the effect of strengthening trust in management because of the dependent
relationship, while an informal process allows the employee to interact
directly with co-workers thereby enhancing the trust relationship with
peers. Commitment to the organization may be elicited by the formal
process because the individual is cut off or isolated from co-workers.
An informal process places the individual directly in the work group and
it is possible that their commitment may be directed to that group versus
1. Interpersonal Trust at Work The extent to which one is willing
to ascribe good interactions to and have confidence in the words and
actions of other people (Cook & Wall, 1980).
2. Organizational Commitment The strength of an individual's
identification with and involvement in a particular organization
characterized by three factors: a strong belief in, and acceptance of,
the organization's goals and values; a readiness to exert considerable
effort on behalf of the organization; and a strong desire to remain a
member of the organization (Porter & Smith, 1970).
3. Job-Induced Tension The degree to which the individual feels
bothered about named features of work (House & Rizzo, 1972).
4. General Job Satisfaction An overall measure of the degree to
which the employee is satisfied and happy in his or her work (Hackman &
5. Mutual Influence The extent to which individuals feel some
control or power over the way work is carried out in their departments
6. Internal Work Motivation The degree to which an employee is
self-motivated to perform effectively on the job (Hackman & Oldham,
7. Job Involvement The degree to which employees are personally
committed and involved in their work (Lodahl & Kejner, 1965).
the organization. Van Maanen (1978) suggests that an informal process
may cause an increase in the tension and anxiety felt by the newcomer as
they attempt to learn appropriate behaviors. The formal strategy may
serve to reduce the anxiety by providing a structured environment. It is
possible that a reduction in the anxiety level experienced may have a
facilitating effect on satisfaction (Siegall & Cummings, 1986).
Collective vs. Individual
Collective strategies would appear to have their greatest impact in
the areas of peer trust, tension-reduction and work group commitment. A
collective strategy places the employees "in the same boat" and elicits
consensual responses to the situation (Van Maanen, 1978). A collective
strategy may also favorably impact the level of job involvement the
newcomer experiences along with a sense of social support (Kirmeyer &
Lin, 1987; Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986; Henderson &
Argyle, 1985; Pearson, 1982).
Sequential vs. Non-Sequential
The impact of a sequential process would be expected to be found in
the areas of tension reduction. If the sequence is published or made
explicit to the new employee, it may serve to provide performance
feedback to the individual which, if positive, helps in reducing the
anxiety level. Feldman (1988) suggests the impact of a sequential
process in reducing feelings of uncertainty or insecurity thereby
increasing general satisfaction. A non-sequential process may have the
opposite effect if the stages are unknown or unclear.
Fixed vs. Variable
A fixed strategy would appear to have some of the same impacts as a
sequential process. The fixed strategy provides feedback to the
individual, again serving to reduce anxiety and uncertainty (Landau &
Hammer, 1986; Parsons, Herold, & Leatherwood, 1985). The overriding
impacts of these strategies appear to lie in outcomes such as job tension
and satisfaction. Where the time to transition is unclear, an
environment of uncertainty and tension is prevalent.
Serial vs. Disjunctive
In a serial process, the newcomer has available an individual to
serve as a guide. An obvious impact would be in the area of peer trust.
The development of a "mentor-like" relationship has the potential to
create a closeness in the interpersonal relationship (Baird & Kram,
1983). Tension reduction may also result as well as a strong level of
commitment to the individual. If the individual is a superior,
commitment may also be projected toward the organization. The rate at
which the transition from newcomer to full member progresses may also be
impacted by the presence of an organizational guide (Reichers, 1987;
Pinder & Schroeder, 1987).
Investiture vs. Divestiture
The major areas of impact here appear to include trust, commitment,
tension, job satisfaction, mutual influence and job involvement. Feldman
suggests that an investiture process "facilitates new employees' feeling
comfortable" while "divestiture can create feelings of distrust and
dislike which may not be erased even after the probationary period is
over" (1988, p. 91). An investiture process builds and sustains the
identity of the newcomer thereby having a facilitating impact. The
individual is made to feel important and contributing, resulting in a
sense of commitment on the part of the employee (Eisenberger, Huntington,
Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986).
The implications and impacts of the early socialization period are
well known (Cohen, 1973; Bray, Campbell, & Grant, 1974; Berlew & Hall,
1966; Katz, 1985). What is not quite as clear is the actual process that
occurs to cause the differential outcomes that result. This dissertation
will provide new data on that issue.
This chapter examines the methodology used in the dissertation
research. It consists of five sections. The first section presents an
overview of the entire sample. The second section describes the
individual research settings and their respective populations. The third
section is a discussion of the method of entry and data collection
techniques employed in each setting. In the fourth section, the data
collection instrument and procedures are described along with descriptive
statistics related to the instrument. The final section presents
statistics related to the individual research settings and job
The total sample population consists of five hundred and forty-three
(543) subjects from four different organizations. The organizations are
varied and diverse and include a utility company, military unit, a
billing service, and a health care facility.
Fifty-nine (59) percent of the participants were female; forty-one
(41) percent were male. Two-thirds of the subjects were 34 or younger.
Twenty-eight (28) percent of the subjects were employed by their current
employer for less than two years; fifty-one (51) percent were employed
for two to five years; twenty-one (21) percent were employed for more
than five years. The majority of the subjects were employed full-time
(95 percent) with five (5) percent working on a part-time basis. Twenty-
nine (29) percent of the subjects were clerical workers; forty-three (43)
percent engaged in technical work; twenty-eight (28) percent were
All of the organizations were located in or in close proximity to a
large southeastern city. In order to maintain the anonymity of the
participation organizations, they are referred to by fictitious names.
Alpha Utility is a major subsidiary of an international corporation.
It can be described as a large, high tech information and communication
services organization. Of a total employee pool of 1,229 full-time
employees, twenty-one (21) percent or 256 individuals participated in the
research project. Sixty-two (62) percent of the sample were female and
thirty-eight (38) percent male. The average length of time of employment
in the organization was 39.9 months and the average length of time of
employment within the subject's department was 18.5 months. In terms of
the type of work performed, approximately ten (10) percent of the sample
was clerical, forty-eight (48) percent technical and forty-two (42)
percent managerial. The entire sample was employed on a full-time basis.
Beta Naval Squadron
The second organization in the study is a Naval Antisubmarine
Helicopter Squadron home based in a coastal city. A total available
subject pool of two hundred (200) personnel provided a participating pool
of one hundred twenty-one (121) subjects, or sixty-one (61) percent of
the total organization. Of the total participants, ninety-one (91)
percent were male and nine (9) percent female. The average length of
time in the organization was 96.8 months with an average time in position
of 20.6 months. Twelve (12) percent of the sample performed clerical
activities, sixty-six (66) percent performed technical jobs, and twenty-
two (22) percent performed management functions.
Gamma Billing Service
Gamma Billing Service is a moderately sized organization performing
activities primarily clerical in nature. The organization provides the
billing and collection functions for individual physicians affiliated
with a large metropolitan hospital. There were one hundred twelve (112)
employees available for the research, of which eighty-six (86) or
seventy-seven (77) percent participated. Ninety (90) percent of the
sample was female. The average length of employment in the organization
was 28.9 months, with the average time on current job of 17.5 months.
Ninety-one (91) percent of the total sample performed clerical functions;
the remaining nine (9) percent were managers. All of the subjects were
The fourth organization participating in the research was a large,
full service pediatric outpatient clinic. The clinic is equipped to
provide many of the services available in an inpatient hospital and
subsequently employs a broad cross section of employees. Of a total
available employee pool of one hundred forty-three (143) employees,
eighty (80) or fifty-six (56) percent participated in the research
project. Eighty-nine (89) percent of the participating sample was female
and eleven (11) percent male. The average length of employment was 41.3
months, with an average employment in current position of 29.4 months.
Forty-four (44) percent of the sample performed clerical tasks, thirty-
seven (37) percent performed technical tasks, and nineteen (19) percent
performed managerial functions.
Tables 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, and 2-4 provide comparative descriptive
statistics on the four research sites on age, job category, time in
organization, and time in current position respectively.
Organizational Entry and Data Collection Procedures
In all organizations, the initial contact was made personally by the
researcher. The researcher introduced himself as a doctoral candidate at
the University of Florida and an instructor in Business Administration at
the University of North Florida. The purpose of the research and the
expected level of involvement on the part of the organization were
briefly discussed, as well as the potential benefits to the organization
as a result of participation. The research project was briefly described
as an attempt to understand the dynamics occurring when an employee first
joins the organization and how that experience impacts the future
relationship between the employee and the organization. In each case, a
meeting was set to discuss the research project in detail; a presentation
was made outlining the theoretical basis for the research and the actual
data collection instrument was reviewed. The actual level of initial
entry varied with each organization but was, in general, at the upper
decision levels. The initial contact person for each organization was as
indicated: Alpha Utility Director, Organizational Development; Beta
Naval Squadron Commanding Officer; Gamma Billing Service Director;
Delta Clinic Clinic Administrator. Entry at this level facilitated the
entire review process. Acceptance of and support of the research project
by this level served to enhance the levels of cooperation throughout the
Less than 25
Sample Distribution by Age
Job Category Distribution
Time in Organization
Time on Job
Once the participation decision was made, the researcher maintained
contact with one key individual in each organization to facilitate data
collection and to coordinate the actual mechanics of the process. In
each organization, the contact person was provided with a sufficient
number of questionnaires to allow each available employee the opportunity
to participate. Employee participation was entirely on a voluntary basis
and the confidentiality of the results was stressed. The instruments
were distributed to each employee by the internal mail delivery system of
the organization. The organization allowed the employee to complete the
questionnaire on company time. Collection points were specified where
the employee could either hand deliver their completed questionnaire or
return via the mail system. In each organization, the collection process
was accomplished within three days.
A brief discussion of the differential response rates among the
participating organizations seems appropriate. Specifically, the lower
participation rate experienced at Alpha Utility requires some
explanation. The participation rate of 21 percent is consistent with
standard response rates in this type of survey. It is possible that the
lower rates at Alpha are due to the very large size of the total
organization in comparison to the others. In each organization, the
project was fully and enthusiastically supported by management and the
impact of this support may have been diluted with the size of Alpha.
In accordance with the participation agreement, each organization
was provided with feedback. As agreed, individual employee anonymity was
maintained and the organizations received aggregate data only. This
information was provided upon the completion of data analysis by the
researcher, with the assurance that the organization would be provided
with additional feedback upon completion of the entire research project.
Instruments and Measures
A questionnaire was utilized for data collection. An identical form
of the questionnaire was used in all four organizations. A copy of the
questionnaire appears in Appendix A, along with the cover letter. The
questionnaire consisted of three parts. Each of these sections will be
described in detail below.
Part I of the questionnaire consisted of thirty (30) questions
dealing with the socialization process as perceived by the individual
employee. The questions measure Van Maanen's (1978) hypothesized "people
processing strategies." Van Maanen included a seventh pair of
strategies, tournament vs. contest, which were not included in the
current research. Van Maanen describes the tournament strategy as "the
practice of separating selected clusters of recruits into different
socialization programs or tracks on the basis of presumed difference in
ability, ambition or background" (1978, pp. 29-30). Contest strategies
imply "the avoidance of a sharp distinction between superiors and
inferiors of the same rank" (1978, p. 30). These strategies were
excluded from the current research because it was anticipated that the
ability to make this distinction would be limited given the nature of the
data collection techniques employed. Additionally, it would appear that
this separation is made by employee superiors; as such, it would be the
perceptions of the superior rather than perceptions of the employee
undergoing the socialization process that would be critical. (Jones,
1986, also did not measure this people processing tactic.)
Items used were largely based on Jones' (Jones, 1986) attempt to
empirically measure these strategies. Slight modification of items was
deemed necessary in light of the nature of the subject pool. Jones'
questionnaires were originally designed for MBA's, a more highly educated
workforce than the target population in this study, and it appeared that
the readability level of the Jones questionnaire would be too high for
present subjects. To test this assumption, a readability analysis was
conducted utilizing the Random House Readability Analysis Program (1981).
This program analyzes the text using recognized indices, including the
Flesch Index (Flesch, 1948) and the Fog Index (Gunning, 1968). The
questions were also analyzed using the Fry Method (Fry, 1969) with
consistent results: the Jones instrument was found to be written at or
above a twelfth grade level.
The researcher sought to adjust the level to one more in line with
the large population of lower level employees, especially the large
number of clerical employees in the sample. By utilizing the vocabulary
feature of the IBM 360 Displaywrite program, the vocabulary level was
adjusted to an eighth (8) grade level. It was anticipated that this
would enhance the understanding of the question without significantly
impacting the content or intent of the statements. Table 2-5 is
presented as a comparison between the data obtained by Jones (Jones,
1986) and the data generated by the current research. In general, the
means are lower, the standard deviations smaller and the discrete
statistics are roughly comparable.
The first section contains items which measure individual
perceptions of the six strategies of their organization's "people
processing." The employee was to respond to the questions in accordance
Comparison of Jones Data to Current Research
on Independent Variable Scales
Formal vs. Informal
Collective vs. Individual
Fixed vs. Variable
Sequential vs. Non-Sequential
Serial vs. Disjunction
Investiture vs. Divestiture
with how they felt during the first few weeks on the job. The six scales
and the items which comprised each are listed below.
11. I went through a set of training experiences which were specifically
designed to give me and the other new people a complete knowledge of
job related skills.
12. I was very aware that I was seen as "learning the ropes" by my more
14. Much of my job knowledge was gained informally on a trial and error
basis. (Reverse Score)
28. I did not do any of my usual job duties until I was completely
familiar with department procedures and work methods.
4. During the first few weeks, I was largely involved with other new
employees in common training activities.
16. This organization puts all new employees through the same set of
17. Most of my training was carried out separately from other new
employees. (Reverse Score)
23. There was a feeling of "being in the same boat" among other new
29. Other new employees were very helpful in my learning my job duties.
1ltem #21 "During my training for this job I was normally physically
separated from my regular work group," was dropped from the analysis
because it was not significantly related to any other item in the scale.
1. I saw a clear pattern in the way one early job assignment led to
2. The steps in the career ladder were clearly spelled out to me.
5. In the beginning, I was moved from job to job to build up experience
and a track record.
9. Each stage of the training process built upon the job knowledge
gained during the previous stages of the training process.
13. This organization did not put new employees through a recognizable
training program. (Reverse Score)
3. The way in which my progress through this organization would follow
a fixed order of events was made clear to me.
7. I had a good idea of the time it would take me to go through the
various stages of the training process.
8. Most of my knowledge of what might happen to me in the future came
informally, through the grapevine, rather than through regular
channels. (Reverse Score)
30. I had little idea when I was going to get my next job assignment or
training assignment. (Reverse Score)
10. I was generally left alone to discover what my job duties should be
in this organization. (Reverse Score)
2Item #25 "I could predict my future career path in this organization by
observing what happened to other employees," was dropped from the
analysis because it was not significantly related to the other items in
20. Experienced employees saw advising or training me and other new
employees as one of their main job duties.
22. I had little or no access to people who had previously performed my
job. (Reverse Score)
26. I gained a clear understanding of my job duties from observing my
27. I received little guidance from experienced employees as to how I
should perform my job. (Reverse Score)
6. Almost all of my co-workers were helpful to me.
15. My co-workers went out of their way to help me adjust to this
18. I was made to feel that my skills and abilities were very important
to this organization.
19. I felt that experienced employees held me at a distance until I
conformed to their expectations. (Reverse Score)
24. I had to change my attitudes and values to be accepted in this
organization. (Reverse Score)
Tables 2-6 and 2-7 present the descriptive statistics related to the
people processing strategies. Included in the tables are the scale and
item mean scores, standard deviations, the mean inter-item correlations,
and the mean intra-item correlations. The inter- and intra-item
correlations were included to assess the extent of the relationships
between items comprising the scales and all other scale items. For
example, the items which are expected to measure the same construct
should be highly correlated with each other and should not be similarly
related to items making up other constructs. With the exception of the
O (rO C- CJ CM fn
(01 C- CM CM CM I
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4- 3- ) 0 p
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rlo C ri)
r- a E a *- 0)
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Item Statistics for People Processing Strategies
Item Mean Score
21 (not used) 2.8
25 (not used) 3.9
*Reported means are means after scores reversed.
scale with the lowest alpha (Formal/Informal), the average within-scale
correlations are higher than the average interscale correlations. The
average Cronbach alpha was .64.
The second section of the questionnaire consists of a set of
statements that reflect the employees' current feelings about their job.
Part II contained forty-three (43) questions which comprised eight (8)
scales. These scales or attitudinal measures were hypothesized to be
related to the socialization process encountered by the employee. The
employees were asked to respond to the questions based on how they felt
at the present time about their job. The eight (8) scales are listed
below indicating the items comprising them and the original source of the
Interpersonal Trust at Work (Cook & Wall, 1980) Sub-Scale
Faith in Peers
39. I can trust the people I work with to lend me a hand if I need it.
53. Most of my co-workers can be relied upon to do as they say they will
68. If I got into difficulties at work I know my co-workers would try
and help me out.
Faith in Management
55. I feel quite confident that the firm will always try to treat me
60. Management at my firm is sincere in its attempt to meet the worker's
point of view.
72. Our management would be quite prepared to gain advantage by
deceiving the workers. (Reverse Score)
Organizational Commitment (Porter & Smith, 1970) Sub-Scale
31. I would accept almost any type of job assignment in order to keep
working for this organization.
36. This organization really inspires the very best in me in the way of
47. I find that my values and the organization's values are very
50. I am willing to put in a great deal of effort beyond that normally
expected in order to help this organization be successful.
51. I am proud to tell others that I am part of this organization.
54. For me this is the best of all possible organizations in which to
57. I really care about the fate of this organization.
61. I am extremely glad that I chose this organization to work for, over
others I was considering at the time I joined.
64. I talk up this organization to my friends as a great organization to
Job-Induced Tension (House & Rizzo, 1972) Sub-Scale
32. I often "take my job home with me" in the sense that I think about
it when doing other things. (Reverse Score)
37. If I had a different job, my health would probably improve.
43. My job tends to directly affect my health. (Reverse Score)
45. I have felt nervous before attending meetings in the company.
46. I have felt fidgety or nervous as a result of my job. (Reverse
58. Problems associated with my job have kept me awake at night.
67. I work under a great deal of tension. (Reverse Score)
General Job Satisfaction (Hackman & Oldham, 1975) Complete Scale
44. Generally speaking, I am very satisfied with this job.
49. I am generally satisfied with the kind of work I do in this job.
63. People on this job often think of quitting. (Reverse Score)
65. Most people on this job are very satisfied with the job.
71. I frequently think of quitting this job. (Reverse Score)
Mutual Influence (Feldman, 1976)
33. Any suggestions I may have for improving the way things are done
here would probably receive favorable consideration by my superiors.
48. If I had an idea about improving the way work was done in this
department, I doubt I could get action on it. (Reverse Score)
56. I feel I have a lot of influence in my unit.
62. I have a lot of opportunities to influence the way things are done
here in my organization.
Internal Work Motivation (Hackman & Oldham, 1975) Complete Scale
34. Most people on this job feel a great sense of personal satisfaction
when they do the job well.
35. My opinion of myself goes up when I do this job well.
40. I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction when I do this job
66. Most people on this job feel bad or unhappy when they find they have
performed the work poorly.
70. My own feelings generally are not affected much one way or the other
by how well I do on this job. (Reverse Score)
73. I feel bad and unhappy when I discover that I have performed poorly
on this job.
Job Involvement (Lodahl & Kejner, 1965) Sub-Scale
38. The most important things that happen to me involve my work.
41. I'm really a perfectionist about my work.
42. The major satisfaction in my life comes from my job.
52. I live, eat and breathe my job.
59. I am very much involved personally in my work.
69. Most things in life are more important than work. (Reverse Score)
Tables 2-8, and 2-9 present the descriptive statistics for the
dependent variables. Item and scale mean scores, mean inter-item
correlations, and mean intra-item correlations are included. All of the
mean intra-scale correlations are substantially higher than the inter-
scale correlations. The average Cronbach alpha was .80.
The third part of the questionnaire contains general demographic
information. The individual items were made as specific as possible
while providing anonymity for the subject. Each organization's
questionnaire was customized in this section to reflect job category
titles appropriate to that organization. Copies of each organization's
Part III are in Appendix A. Other demographics included length of time
employed by the organization, length of time in current position, age
(categorized), sex, and full or part-time work. Military respondents
were asked whether they were enlisted or officer rank.
Organization and Job Category Statistics
The final section of this chapter presents statistical data related
to each of the organizations and to categorizations created by job type.
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Table 2-10 indicates the means and standard deviations for each of the
people processing strategies by organization. The same statistics are
presented for the attitudinal outcomes, by organization, in Table 2-11.
The results of an analysis of variance are also included in Tables 2-10
and 2-11. In Table 2-12, means and standard deviations for the people
processing strategies are presented by job category. The attitudinal
outcome statistics by job category are shown in Table 2-13. The results
of an analysis of variance by job category are also included in Tables 2-
12 and 2-13.
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In this chapter, the results of the research will be presented and
discussed. This chapter will include five sections. The first section
presents the results of a correlational analysis among the people
processing strategies. The second section indicates the results of a
correlational analysis among the outcomes or attitudinal variables. In
the third section, the results of a correlational analysis between the
individual processing strategies and the individual outcomes are
presented. The fourth section shows the results of a cluster analysis
conducted to identify the patterns of relationships between the people
processing strategies. The final section describes a discriminant
analysis conducted to determine the impact of patterns of processing
strategies on the attitudinal outcomes.
People Processing Strategy Correlations
A Pearson product-moment correlational analysis was conducted to
determine the extent of the relationship between each of the pairs of
people processing strategies. It is important at this point to note that
the strategies were viewed as ends of a continuum for the purposes of
this research. The questions were constructed in such a way that a high
score, seven (7), would reflect a strategy consistent with the variable
name. A low score, one (1), would reflect the opposite end of the
continuum and therefore the opposite strategy. For example, the variable
named "formal" is constructed to reflect a formal process when a high
score (7) is recorded while a lower score (1) represents an "informal"
strategy. This reasoning is consistently applied across each of the
Table 3-1 contains the results of the correlation analysis conducted
among the processing strategies.
Each processing pair and its relationship to the other pairs will be
Formal vs. Informal
The formal end of the strategy pair represents the extent to which
the newcomer is segregated from the regular work place while an informal
strategy indicates that there is no differentiation from current
organizational members. Relatively high inter-correlations are present
between the formal strategy pair and four of the other pairs ranging from
(r = .49) to (r = .55). The lowest was found between the formal strategy
and the investiture pair (r = .24).
Collective vs. Individual
The collective strategy reflects socialization as a group while
individual strategies indicate the process occurring singly. The highest
correlation present was that between the collective and formal strategy
pairs (r = .49). Three other pairs were fairly consistent in the range
(r = .32) to (r = .35). Once again, the lowest relationship was with the
investiture strategy, (r = .12).
Sequential vs. Non-Sequential
Sequential strategies are marked by discrete and identifiable stages
of passage. In non-sequential strategies, the socialization process is
accomplished in one step. The highest relationship found here was
People Processing Strategies
N = 543
Sequential Fixed Serial
*** p < .001
** p < .01
between sequential strategies and the fixed strategy (r = .68). Two
other strategies, formal and serial, had correlations of (r = .55) and (r
= .54) respectively. At the lowest levels were investiture (r = .36) and
collective (r = .35) strategies.
Fixed vs. Variable
With a fixed strategy, the time of transition from newcomer to
member is fixed. The variable strategy reflects an open-ended time
frame. The highest relationship was found to be between the fixed
strategy and the sequential process (r = .68). Investiture (r = .41)
fell toward the lower end.
Serial vs. Disjunctive
The serial strategy reflects the availability of role models for the
newcomer while the disjunctive strategy reflects the absence of models.
Four of the strategies ranged from (r = .52) to (r = .54). The
collective strategy was at the (r = .34) level.
Investiture vs. Divestiture
Where the newcomer's identity and ability has been ratified by the
organization, investiture has occurred. A process of divestiture strips
away the incoming identity of the newcomer. The strongest correlation
found here was with the serial strategy (r = .52). The other strategies
ranged from (r = .41) to (r = .24). The collective strategy had the
lowest correlation with the investiture strategy (r = .12).
Although the actual correlations derived were not of substantial
magnitude (the highest level found was .68), they do demonstrate a
consistent pattern of high interrelationships among the processing
Two specific patterns appear to be present. The first pattern seems
to contain strategies that are consistent with Van Maanen's
conceptualization of a "batch" or "mass production" approach to people
processing. This involves a strategy which is formal, collective,
sequential, fixed and serial in content. This is also similar in some
respects to Jones' (1986) classification of an institutionalized set of
The second pattern that appears to be present is analogous to Van
Maanen's concept of "unit" people processing. This set of strategies
would involve a process that is individual, informal, non-sequential,
variable and disjunctive in form. There are similarities once again with
Jones' (1986) "individualized" categorization.
The most significant difference related to the investiture strategy.
In each case, the investiture strategy was an outlier, unrelated to other
people processing tactics.
Attitudinal Outcomes Correlations
A Pearson product-moment correlational analysis was conducted to
examine the pattern of relationships among the dependent attitudinal
variables. The results of the analysis are shown in Table 3-2.
Prior to discussing the relationships and patterns present in the
attitudinal measures, it is informative to first examine the variables
This factor reflects the confidence placed in the words and actions
of the newcomer's peers. The strongest relationships here were with
mutual influence (r = .50), management trust (r = .48), job satisfaction
(r = .48), and organization commitment (r = .45).
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Management trust is a reflection of the confidence that the newcomer
has in their superiors. The impact of this factor is found to be most
significant in terms of commitment to the organization (r = .73) and job
satisfaction (r = .70).
Commitment reflects the strength of the individual's identification
with and involvement in the organization. As noted above, job
satisfaction (r = .70) and management trust (r = .73) play a significant
part in the level of commitment to the organization.
Tension here is the measure of features of the job which "bother"
the individual to a significant degree. The greatest impact of this
outcome seems to be in the area of job satisfaction (r = .35). A
secondary area of impact is the level of management trust (r = .35).
Job satisfaction is an overall measure of the degree to which the
individual is satisfied or happy in their work. As discussed earlier,
commitment (r = .78) to the organization and management trust (r = .70)
are strongly associated with this factor.
The extent to which the individual feels control or power over their
work is measured by the degree of mutual influence experienced. The
strongest relationships here are with organization commitment (r = .68),
management trust (r = .64), and job satisfaction (r = .63).
Internal Work Motivation
Internal work motivation reflects employee self-motivation to
perform effectively. This variable is most highly associated with
organization commitment (r = .53), mutual influence (r = .46), and job
satisfaction (r = .45).
Employee personal commitment to the work and feelings of involvement
are reflected in this variable. Job involvement is most significantly
related to organization commitment (r = .49) and internal work motivation
(r = .48).
There appears to be a strong relationship between the dependent
variables. The data suggests a relatively high level of intercorrelation
among the attitudinal variables, with the exception of job involvement.
Job involvement appears to be an outlier.
Relationships Between Individual Processing Strategies and Outcomes
In this section, the results of the correlation analysis between the
individual people processing strategy pairs and the attitudinal outcomes
are presented. Table 3-3 displays these relationships.
The first significant pattern of results is the almost complete lack
of impact present in the relationship between the formal and collective
processing strategies and the attitudinal outcomes. With few exceptions,
the correlations are not significant, and where there is statistical
significance it is of such a small magnitude as to be considered
A second interesting pattern of results occurs among sequential,
fixed, and serial processing strategies. The results of the
correlational analysis indicates a relationship among these three
*** p < .001
** p < .01
* p < .05
Correlations Between People
Strategies and Attitudinal
N = 543
Formal Collective Sequential
.06 .04 .14**
.15*** .08 .25***
.13** .09* .23***
-.05 -.03 -.06
.11** .06 .19***
.08 .07 .16***
.01 .06 .13**
.01 -.01 .07
Fixed Serial Investiture
.17*** .23*** .49***
.34*** .28*** .48***
.26*** .21*** .44***
-.19*** -.13** -.27***
.29*** .20*** .45***
.23*** .20*** .50***
.09* .11** .28***
.10* .02 .10*
variables that is consistent in terms of magnitude and statistical
significance. There appears consistent moderate correlations among these
strategies and all the attitudinal variables except job involvement.
The third significant relationship here is that between the
investiture strategy and the outcomes. Without exception, the strongest
relationships occur between this one strategy and each of the attitudinal
outcomes. A further distinction can be made by separating the outcome
variables into internal work factors and interpersonal factors. When
this is done, it is obvious that the most significant impact of the
investiture strategy is in the area of interpersonal relationships.
Cluster Analysis Results
Cluster analysis is a method of classifying variables into groups,
or clusters. Nunnally defines a cluster as "consisting of variables that
correlate highly with one another and have comparatively low correlations
with variables in other clusters" (1978, p. 429), while Kerlinger
describes a cluster as "a subset of a set of 'objects'--persons, tests,
concepts, and so on--the members of which are more similar or closer to
each other than they are to members outside the cluster" (1973, p. 576).
In the present case, the "objects" of the analysis were the research
subjects. The criterion utilized for assignment to a particular cluster
were the processing strategies.
The CLUSTER procedure (SAS, 1985) was utilized to determine the
hierarchical clusters present in the people processing strategies. The
centroid hierarchical method (Sokal & Michener, 1958) was employed in the
clustering routine. The technique is briefly described by Everitt (1974)
as one in which "groups are depicted to lie in Euclidean space, and are
replaced in formation by the co-ordinates of their centroid. The
distance between groups is defined as the distance between the group
centroids. The procedure then is to fuse groups according to the
distance between their centroids, the groups with the smallest distance
being fused first" (1974, p. 12).
Cluster analysis provides the capacity to deal with a large amount
of data in such a manner as to "give a more concise and understandable
account of the observations under consideration. In other words,
simplification with minimal loss of information is sought" (Everitt,
1974, p. 4). A second objective of cluster analysis is to produce groups
which form the basis of a classification scheme useful in later studies
for predictive purposes (Everitt, 1974). Both of these objectives were
sought in the current research.
The FASTCLUS procedure (SAS, 1985) identified two distinct clusters.
Table 3-4 indicates the processing strategy mean scores for the two
clusters. The two clusters represent the two distinctive patterns
discussed previously: "unit" and "batch" approaches to socialization.
Cluster I is reflective of the "batch" approach and Cluster II reflects
an "unit" orientation. Figure 3-1 visually demonstrates the differences
between the two clusters.
Discriminant Analysis Results
In order to determine the relationships between the clusters of
processing strategies and the outcome variables described earlier, a
discriminant analysis was conducted. Klecka defines discriminant
analysis as "a statistical technique which allows the researcher to study
the differences between two or more groups of objects with respect to
several variables simultaneously" (1980, p. 7). In the present research,
the group of objects are the two clusters of subjects that were derived
People Processing Strategies Mean Scores
Cluster I Cluster II
I s.d. X s.d.
Formal 4.2 .87 2.9 .76
Collective 4.4 1.06 3.4 1.01
Fixed 4.4 .94 2.6 .86
Sequential 4.4 .89 2.9 .88
Serial 4.9 .83 3.3 .93
Investiture 5.3 .87 4.1 1.22
I I I I
7 6 5 4
3 2 1
with the cluster analysis. The discriminating factors are the outcome or
attitudinal variables described earlier. The process, then, is directed
at finding the discriminant function, described by Kerlinger as "a
regression equation with a dependent variable that represents group
membership. The function maximally discriminates the members of the
group; it tells us to which group each member probably belongs" (1973, p.
The results of the discriminant analysis are shown in Table 3-5. It
is important to note that for every outcome variable, Cluster I mean
scores are higher than Cluster II mean scores. The mean scores for each
cluster are plotted in Figure 3-2 to facilitate a comparison between the
two. The results of the discriminant analysis, together with the
conclusions of the cluster analysis, point out a significant finding. It
would appear that when a "unit" type of socialization process is
experienced (that is, one which is informal, individual, variable, non-
sequential and disjunctive), we can expect somewhat lower attitudinal
outcomes. A "batch" process (formal, collective, fixed, sequential, and
serial) tends to have somewhat more positive responses on the same
The data derived from the cluster analysis and the subsequent
discriminant analysis suggest that there are, in fact, recognizable
patterns of people processing strategies present. Further, these
patterns have a systematic relationship with the attitudinal variables
described earlier. The implications and applications of these results
will be developed further in the next chapter.
Attitudinal Outcomes Mean Scores
Peer Trust 5.2 1.11
Management Trust 4.6 1.40
Organization Commitment 4.9 1.06
Job Induced Tension 4.2 1.12
Job Satisfaction 4.6 1.22
Mutual Influence 4.6 1.28
Internal Work Motivation 5.4 .79
Job Involvement 3.9 .98
N = 279
N = 264
I I I I 1
7 6 5 4 3
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
This chapter summarizes the results of the research and discusses
the implications of the results for organizational socialization
programs. This chapter consists of four sections. The first two
sections examine, in turn, the relationships among the people processing
strategies and the relationships between the people processing strategies
and the attitudinal outcomes. The third portion of the chapter discusses
methodological issues in the research on organizational socialization,
while the fourth, and last, segment discusses the organizational
applications of the findings of the research.
Relationships Among the People Processing Strategies
One of the major purposes of the current research was to empirically
examine the patterns of people processing strategies posited by Van
Maanen (1978). The correlational analysis suggests that the various
strategies, while theoretically conceived of as being independent, were
in actuality highly interrelated. Two distinct patterns emerged: a
"unit" strategy and a "batch" mode of socialization.
The "unit" strategy is indicative of a customized strategy for one
individual. For instance, this strategy might be used when a single new
employee enters an organization into a position for which there is no
current incumbent (e.g., executive succession) or for which the time
required for transition to full member is unknown or unclear (e.g., Ph.D.
students). One might further speculate the application of a "unit"
strategy in situations where the organization is relatively small in
size, with highly technical or professional tasks, and where innovative
behavior is encouraged and expected. Examples of this type of
organization might include high-technology development firms, specialized
or custom-work shops, and creativity-driven organizations such as market
research and management consulting firms. The "unit" approach to
socialization would involve a process which is relatively individual,
informal, non-sequential, variable and disjunctive in nature.
In contrast, the "batch" approach reflects a strategy which tends to
be more formal, collective, sequential, fixed and serial in structure.
Typically, "batch" socialization programs are conducted with large groups
of new recruits, over a specified time period, and involve specific
phases or steps. The types of organizations where one might encounter a
"batch" type of process, not surprisingly, are also those where a high
volume of rather routine tasks and activities occur. Large manufacturing
or clerically based organizations would appear to be examples here.
Assembly-line operations such as automobile manufacturing or firms where
a high volume of paper processing occurs (i.e., insurance) would seem to
be the likely location for a "batch" oriented socialization process.
However, it is not easy to globally categorize any one organization
or job classification. Any single organization, for instance, may be
comprised of several elements that fall into both of the above
classifications. Thus, an organization may at the same time involve in
its subsystems socialization processes that are both "unit" and "batch."
It is for the above reason and because of the added complexity that the
researcher chose not to include comparisons within the individual
organizations. These comparisons will require further attention and are
more appropriate for future research and analysis.
One might also hypothesize that unit socialization would be more
common with "resocialized" employees (e.g., those who are transferred or
promoted to new departments) while batch socialization would be more
common with large groups of new recruits. Feldman and Brett (1983, 1985)
conducted a comparison of the coping differences between new hires and
job changers. Some of the differences they highlighted have relevance
here in terms of the different processing strategies. For example,
Feldman and Brett found that new hires "are typically given three to six
months to learn their new job, take part in formal training and benefit
from a great deal of unsolicited, informal help" (1985, p. 62). Job
changers, on the other hand "are expected 'to hit the ground running,'
and to exhibit the same high level of performance on the new job as they
did on the old" (1985, p. 62). Furthermore, job changers report "that
they receive very little unsolicited help and feel that asking for help
would be seen as a sign of weakness" (1985, p. 62). Also, Feldman and
Brett note that most newcomers are hired in groups, but job changers
often enter one at a time. These very distinct differences have
significant relevance for the socialization process.
Another important finding of this research is the independence of
the investiture/divestiture strategy from the other strategies. The
analysis here suggests that the investiture/divestiture strategy is not
closely associated with the other strategies. This is a different
finding than that of Jones (1986). Jones found three clusters of
strategies which he categorized as being concerned with context, content
and social aspects. Jones' contextual tactics included the
formal/informal and collective/individual strategy; his content tactics
were the sequential/non-sequential and fixed/variable pairs; and his
social aspect tactics included the serial/disjunctive and
investiture/divestiture sets. Jones further classified the strategies as
either institutionalized (collective, formal, sequential, fixed, serial
and investiture) or individualized (individual, informal, non-sequential,
variable, disjunctive and divestiture).
The current research does not support this classification scheme.
Investiture here seems to reflect the quality of the interpersonal
relationships found in the organization between newcomers and established
members, and seems to be separate and distinct from the unit/batch
dichotomy. It is conceivable that this result reflects the fact that
newcomers can psychologically separate the mechanical processes of
socialization from the emotional or interpersonal dynamics of the
experience, or more simply, the difference between their "initiation to
the task" and their "initiation to the group" (Feldman, 1977).
The above discussion suggests it might be possible to construct a
framework which displays the different types of socialization strategies
by organizational or job type. Such a matrix appears in Figure 4-1.
As suggested earlier, it is not always possible to neatly classify
an organization given the complexities present. It is useful, however,
to speculate in a general manner how various organizational types might
be assigned. These assignments are, as indicated, speculative and were
derived from both the strategy mean scores for each organization
(reported in Table 2-10) and from the researcher's knowledge of the
nature of the organizational activities and structures. For example, the
data in the current research suggests that the military unit fits best in
the batch/divestiture cell since the respondents report a process that is
somewhat formal, collective, fixed, sequential and serial in content.
Furthermore, the process was marked by relatively high levels of
divestiture. This result is consistent with what we know about the
nature of military basic training (Bourne, 1967; Horner, 1979; Ilgen &
Seely, 1974). Bourne reports that the socialization strategy used by the
military during recruit training includes an attempt to strip away the
newcomers' identity and to replace it with a new one (Bourne, 1967).
Furthermore, Bourne (1967) suggests that the new recruit is made to feel
like an outsider and is constantly reminded that the skills they arrived
with are of no value to the army. These actions are the essence of a
The billing service and the utility seem to fall into the
batch/investiture quadrant because the processes reported here were again
relatively formal, collective, fixed, sequential and serial. There is
some basis for this cell assignment when one considers the size and
nature of activities of these two locations. The utility, for example,
was the largest site in the sample and together with the billing service
accounted for the largest proportion of clerical functions. Given the
number of employees undergoing socialization at any one time, it makes
sense that a collective, standardized process would be employed. In this
quadrant, the investiture tactic seems to be more prevalent. This may
reflect a concerted effort on the part of the subject organizations to
match the socialization process to the social demands of their tasks
(i.e., friendly service to the public and to clients).
The unit/investiture cell seems to be the appropriate categorization
for the health care facility since the respondents generally reported a
process that was informal, individual, variable, non-sequential and
disjunctive. A relatively high level of investiture was also present.
Relatively well-trained professional and technical workers have already
received extensive "anticipatory socialization" prior to entry into the
organization. Thus, divesting socialization processes, to the extent
needed, have already taken place. Moreover, the unit strategy may be
used more frequently because fewer employees are hired at any one time,
and employees need to learn how to function autonomously early in their
It is also possible to explore cell assignment by job category. In
order to simplify this process, the sample job categories were combined
into three major classifications: managerial, technical and clerical.
Once again the cell assignments were made based partly on the strategy
mean scores (reported in Table 2-12) and partly on the knowledge of the
researcher of the organizations' structures and activities.
The data suggest that managerial tasks fit in the unit/investiture
cell. Typically, managers are socialized in an informal, individual,
variable, non-sequential and disjunctive manner. This is consistent with
what Bray et al. (1974) found in their study of AT&T managers. Bray et
al. (1974) found no uniform set of procedures used in socialization of
newly hired managers. The responsibility for the process varied from
department to department and the major means of socialization was job
rotation throughout the organization. The level of investiture reflects
the criticality of the social dimension of these positions. Schacter
(1959) suggests that as the newcomer seeks to live up to expectations,
they become more affiliative and begin to identify with significant
others who can furnish guidance and reassurance. Schein (1971) suggests
that it is through interaction with veteran managers that recruits absorb
the subtleties of organizational culture and climate.
Clerical jobs seem appropriate for the batch/investiture cell
because they typically reflect a formal, collective, fixed, sequential
and serial process. Again, this is consistent with what one would expect
when the socialization process is involved with a large number of
recruits performing relatively routine tasks. Organizations employing
large numbers of clerical employees are typically faced with the task of
socializing large numbers of new recruits. Often, turnover is high in
these clerical, entry-level positions and the replacement process is
almost continuous. It makes sense, then, that the organization would
attempt to "streamline" the socialization process as much as possible in
order to minimize costs. A batch strategy allows the organization to
"package" its socialization process thereby standardizing the process and
reducing costs per employee.
The technical classification appears to fit in the batch/divestiture
quadrant. This classification is somewhat tenuous. Schein (1964, 1968)
has reported the widespread use of debasing or upending experiences that
are encountered in professional training programs. They may be used to
make even well-educated workers cautious, and to reduce any cockiness
which might have developed in school.
It is important to note that in both the organizational assignment
and the job categorizations, one cell remained empty. The unit/
divestiture cell was vacant in both cases. This makes some intuitive
sense since it is highly unlikely that one would encounter this strategy
set in an organization. Since the unit strategy is more labor-intensive
from the organization's point of view, it is unlikely that it would be
consciously coupled with a strategy of divestiture. In the
individualized socialization of a manager, it would be inconsistent and
socially awkward, in light of the close one-on-one relationship, to
include experiences that are debasing or upending (Schein, 1968). This
would be contrary to the nature of the relationship typically found in a
"mentoring" type of partnership.
It is also possible to speculate that one might find a unit/
divestiture strategy used following another of the other strategy sets.
For example, Van Maanen (1976b) describes the transition from new recruit
to rookie policemen. The police academy could be viewed as involving a
batch/divestiture strategy but, upon completion, the recruit moves to an
apprentice program (e.g., rookie cop paired with a veteran) that could be
categorized as unit/divestiture. A similar situation occurs in the
military when an individual completes recruit training (batch/
divestiture) and enters into specialized advanced training, e.g., Green
Relationships Between the People Processing
Strategies and Attitudinal Outcomes
A second major objective of this research was to determine the
extent of the impact of the people processing strategies on various
attitudinal measures. The results of the research provided evidence for
the conclusion that there is a systematic pattern of relationships
between the processing strategies and the attitudinal variables measured.
The "batch" process or set of strategies resulted in consistently higher
positive responses on the attitudinal measures than the "unit"
strategies. This is a somewhat unexpected result.
Intuitively, one might expect a "unit" or individualized process to
elicit a relatively more positive attitudinal response due to the
dependency of the newcomer. For example, Bourne (1967) studied the
socialization process that occurs during Army basic training and
discusses the effects of the immediate environmental shock of training.
He suggests the typical recruit response to this highly individualized
activity as one of dazed apathy. The recruits, as a result, become very
dependent upon those in positions of authority. Van Maanen suggests that
"a person undergoing formal socialization is likely to feel isolated,
cutoff, and prohibited from assuming everyday social relationships with
his more experienced 'betters'" (1978, p. 23). Another hypothesized
reason for this relationship is the suggestion that newcomers
experiencing unit socialization may also be relatively malleable because
they are alone and therefore feel especially vulnerable to group pressure
(Heiss & Nash, 1967; Walker, 1973).
Further arguments for the contention that "unit" socialization
processes should result in stronger affect towards the organization are
offered by Van Maanen and Schein (1979). Van Maanen and Schein, citing
the work of Burke (1950), suggest that individual strategies "can result
in deep individual changes, 'secular conversion,' but they are lonely
changes and are dependent solely upon the particular relationship which
exists between agent and recruit" (1979, p. 234). They further argue
that "outcomes in these one-on-one efforts are dependent primarily upon
the affective relationships which may or may not develop between the
apprentice and master" (1979, p. 234). As Caplow (1964) notes, this one-
on-one practice is prevalent especially in higher levels of bureaucratic
organizations where the person designated to conduct the socialization
process becomes a role model for the recruit. One can assume that the
relationship, especially at higher levels, will be intended to foster
high affect and consequently a stronger affinity not only for the role
model but for the organization as well.
However, in this research, being afforded individualized attention
did not result in a closer affinity for the organization. The data
suggests that the opposite response occurs. One could hypothesize that
the "specialness" is overshadowed by heightened levels of anxiety and
ambiguity resulting from less structured programs. For example, the
absence of a role model or close contact with others undergoing the same
experience may serve to increase the levels of tension the individual
experiences in the new and novel situation.
The positive impact of the "batch" strategy can also be explained
when we examine the process in conjunction with work group adjustment.
Feldman (1988) suggests the importance of social adjustment for new
recruits in three areas: as a source of social support, as a source of
work information and direction, and as "a framework for understanding all
the seemingly disparate pieces of information they are receiving" (1988,
p. 91). The outcomes, then, of a batch strategy include a source of
stress reduction (Feldman & Brett, 1983), performance feedback and role
modeling (Hackman, 1976; Weiss, 1977), and as a source of "sense-making"
(Louis, 1980). The data suggests that the "batch" approach might provide
the organization with the capability to favorably impact the levels of
tension and anxiety associated with the socialization experience. The
more structured "batch" approach appears to lessen the ambiguity and
uncertainty experienced as suggested by the relatively higher scores on
the attitudinal outcomes.
A further distinction to be considered is the differential effects
of the investiture and divestiture strategies. The results of the
research suggest that an investiture strategy results in higher or more
favorable responses on the attitudinal outcomes. The divestiture tactic
appears to result in a lowering of job-related attitudes. This is
consistent with what one would expect given the nature of each strategy,
and with previous research (Jones, 1986). An investiture strategy
reinforces the value of the contribution of the newcomer and therefore
serves to validate the self-image of the individual. This is reflected
by the relatively higher scores in the areas of management trust, job
satisfaction, organizational commitment and mutual influence. Tension
and anxiety associated with the new position also seem to be favorably
The divestiture strategy, on the other hand, seems to disconfirm the
value of the individual. A divestiture strategy not only strips away the
old identity of the newcomer, but constantly denigrates the self esteem
of the individual, resulting in a lowering of scores in areas such as
management trust, job satisfaction and job involvement. Furthermore, job
tension appears to increase with the use of the divestiture tactic.
The conduct of research in the area of organizational socialization
has been, and continues to be, marked by certain methodological problems.
These problem areas include issues related to research design, sample
selection and data collection techniques (Feldman, 1988; Fisher, 1986).
The design issue has centered on the almost exclusive use of cross-
sectional designs to assess what is, in reality, a longitudinal process.
The dynamic nature of the socialization process is demonstrated by the
many "stage" or "phase" models. The current research focused on one
stage of the process, the "breaking in" stage, in its cross-sectional
approach. Obviously, it would have been far more complex but potentially
more informative to have tracked the subjects through several steps of
the process. This was not done in the current study but provides a
direction and objectives for further longitudinal research. Some of the
results found in the current study may be attributable to other factors.
The second methodology issue involves the selection of the sample of
subjects. Subject selection has been narrow and generally restricted to
a limited type or category of employee. Frequently, research has focused
on samples comprised of police, military, nursing, engineers and students
(Fisher, 1986). Little research has been directed at several
occupational categories across several organizations. The current
research sought to increase the scope of the inquiry by including several
job categories and several different organization types. As noted in
Chapter 2, the organizations examined included a utility, a medical
clinic, a military unit and a clerical organization. This diversity of
organizations provided the researcher with a wide range of job types and
occupational categories ranging from blue-collar, clerical to upper level
management. Several professional and technical classifications were also
included in the pool of subjects. However, non-comparable samples to
previous research may account for some of the new results in this study.
Another area of concern is the potential confounding that occurs
when one is unable to clearly distinguish between socialization to a
profession versus socialization to a particular organization. This would
include the ability to assess the impact of "anticipatory socialization"
experiences, e.g., educational institutions, and their relationship with
the socialization efforts of the employing organization. As noted by
Fisher, "the occupational socialization variable is confounded with both
post-hire socialization experiences (master's degree engineers are likely
to be assigned different job activities and colleagues than Ph.D.
scientists) and possible preexisting value differences which led
individuals to choose one type of educational program over another"
(1986, pp. 103-104).
Data collection techniques comprise the third problem in methodology
encountered in socialization research. As Fisher (1986) has pointed out,
with a few notable exceptions (Schein, 1978; Van Maanen, 1978, 1975;
Feldman & Brett, 1983), the majority of the empirical approaches to the
study of socialization have relied solely upon self-report questionnaire
data with the inherent problems of reliability and validity (Campbell &
Stanley, 1966). The current research also utilized self-report
questionnaires for data collection. Nunnally suggests "self-report
measures of attitudes are limited to what individuals know about their
attitudes and are willing to relate" (1978, p. 591) and further argues
"the validity of a self-report measure depends upon how results are
interpreted" (1978, p. 392).
Additionally, an important issue which should be addressed is that
of the differences in perception between what recruits experience and
what organizations say they provide. It is reasonable to suggest that
what the newcomer reports to have occurred during their socialization may
be fundamentally different than that intended by the organization. It is
clear that individuals behave in response to their perceptions, whether
reflecting "objective" reality or not. In order to identify any
perceptual differences, it would be necessary to assess the process from
several different perspectives, i.e., a comparison of employee
assessments with those of supervisors and managers.
Further research in this area also requires an approach that
incorporates several data collection techniques used simultaneously.
Composite or multi-method approaches may provide the best approach for
dealing with this concern (Campbell & Fiske, 1959). Several researchers
have effectively utilized this type of approach (Schein, 1978; Feldman,
1976; Van Maanen, 1975). Innovative data collection approaches will help
to enhance the reliability of research in the area of organizational
Another methodological issue present in the current research
concerns the use of attitudinal measures versus behaviors. As Fisher
points out "certainly behavior is more visible than attitudes, and is
thus more likely to provoke influence attempts from others. However, few
studies have attempted to document behavior change during socialization"
(1986, pp. 108-109). This is an area that requires further attention
because of the significance of the impact of individual behavior in the
organizational setting. For example, the specific relationships between
the strategy sets and levels of involvement and commitment have
significant implications for the organization. The linkage between
levels of job involvement and commitment and subsequent turnover and
absenteeism have been well documented (Blau & Boal, 1987; Youngblood,
Mobley & Meglino, 1983; Blau, 1986; Farrell & Petersen, 1984). The costs
associated with high levels of turnover and absenteeism continue to be a
concern of organizational management and provide greater impetus for
achieving a "good match."
When one relies upon retrospective data, as was the case in the
assessment of the processing strategies, other threats to validity must
be considered. The subjects were asked to recall how they felt during
the first few weeks on the job. For some subjects, this was a fairly
recent event while for others the time since entry was far longer. The
longer the time since entry, the more opportunities for response
distortion. Campbell and Stanley suggest that one "should be careful to
note that the probable direction of memory bias is to distort the past
attitudes into agreement with present ones, or into agreement with what
the tenant has come to believe to be socially desirable attitudes" (1966,
p. 66). The current condition of the employment relationship may have
distorted or "flavored" the recall of the subject. Nunnally has
addressed the problem of self-knowledge or recall by suggesting
there is some selective 'forgetting' of one's own
actions and the ways in which other people have
responded to us, and those memories that remain
active frequently are reshaped in one way or another.
To the extent that questionnaire items concern
typical behavior over a long period of time or
behavior in an earlier stage of life, individuals may
be deficient in self-knowledge purely because they
cannot accurately recall how they performed and how
other people responded to them. (1978, p. 665)
A final methodological issue requiring attention is the
relationships between the variables. The results of the analysis suggest
a relatively high degree of multicollinearity present among both the
independent and the attitudinal variables. Belsley, Kuh and Welsch
define the condition of multicollinearity as existing with more than two
variates when "there is a high multiple correlation when one of the
variates is regressed on the others" (1980, p. 86). Although the
specificity of the patterns are somewhat ambiguous, there appears to be
some evidence for two patterns of relationships in the independent
variables: "unit" and "batch." The data suggests one pattern of
relationships among the attitudinal outcomes that might be representative
of the work itself while another pattern is suggestive of factors related
to social aspects of the work environment. It is not totally clear at
this point if the multicollinearity is due to theoretical considerations
or due to the methods employed in the research. Further research is
required to address the problem of multicollinearity.
When one considers the emphasis placed on formal socialization
programs by organizations (Zenke, 1982) it becomes apparent that it is
important and potentially beneficial for the organization to fully
understand the objectives of its socialization program. It is imperative
that the processing strategies employed by the organization are
supportive of and consistent with the outcomes sought.
It is feasible at this point to begin to speculate on the various
organizational objectives which may direct the utilization of one or the
other strategy sets. Van Maanen and Schein suggest that "individual
socialization processes are most likely to be associated with complex
roles" and where "there are relatively few incumbents compared to many
aspirants for a given role and when a collective identity among recruits
is viewed as less important than the recruits' learning of the
operational specifics of the given role" (1979, p. 234). Van Maanen and
Schein further suggest that
collective socialization programs are usually found
in organizations where there are a large number of
recruits to be processed into the same
organizationally defined role; where the content of
this role can be fairly clearly specified; and, where
the organization desires to build a collective sense
of identity, solidarity, and loyalty within the
cohort group being socialized. (1979, pp. 234-235)
The above considerations suggest some specific steps that should be
undertaken by organizations to enhance the effectiveness of their
socialization programs. These are as follows:
Identification of Objectives
The organization should clearly delineate the types of outcomes it
seeks in terms of employee attitudes and behaviors. In other words, what
are the objectives the organization seeks to achieve with its
socialization program? It is clear at this point that differential
strategies result in different responses on the part of the individual
experiencing the process. The organization, then, has within its powers
the ability to "tailor" its people processing strategies to obtain the
types of outcomes it seeks. This is a major consideration in light of
the consequences of the various attitudinal outcomes. For example, is
innovative behavior sought or is it more important to build high levels
of conformity? The answer to this question would dictate whether
investiture or divestiture is more appropriate.
Identification of Current Strategies
The organization should take steps to identify the current strategy
or set of strategies that it employs in its socialization process. As
was noted earlier, it is imperative that organizational management
clearly know the strategies they are employing to socialize their
employees. Equally important, management needs to be aware of the
perceptions of employees as they undergo the socialization program. This
might be accomplished by obtaining perceptions not only from employees
themselves, but also from the human resource managers and those in line
positions. It would then be possible to identify any differences in
perception, and the reasons for those differences.
Design of Socialization Program to Achieve Objectives
Once the organization has specified its objectives and determined
the types of processing strategies employed, it is possible to redesign
the process if required to bring it more in line with the objectives.
This becomes a much more complex issue if the organization is concerned
with differential responses across different job categories or
departments. The more complex the occupational make-up of the
organization, the more difficult it becomes to administer the
socialization program. An analysis should be conducted to determine the
appropriate level of complexity for the organizational socialization
The current research and other research on Van Maanen's typology
(Jones, 1986) suggests the possibility of the development of a "fit"
model (Feldman, forthcoming) that could be utilized to develop
organizational socialization programs. Such a model would allow the
organization to predict the outcomes that may occur given a specific set
of processing strategies and to design their program to obtain desired
An appropriate application of the results of the current study may
be found in the work of Schuler and Jackson (1987). Schuler and Jackson
suggest a model for linking the competitive strategies of organizations
with the practices of human resource management. They specifically
identify three competitive strategies: innovation, quality enhancement,
and cost reduction. Linked with each of these strategies are specific
employee role behaviors. For example, the innovative strategy requires a
high degree of creative behavior, a relatively high level of cooperative,
interdependent behavior and a high tolerance of ambiguity and
unpredictability. These behavioral requirements would suggest that a
unit/investiture strategy set might be appropriate since this tactic
seems to encourage creative behavior while at the same time requiring the
individual to be tolerant of the ambiguity and unpredictability
associated with an individualized socialization process.
The quality enhancement and cost reduction strategies require
relatively repetitive and predictable behavior, a moderate amount of
cooperative, interdependent behavior and commitment to the goals of the
organization. One might expect these behavioral responses where a
batch/investiture strategy is employed. The batch approach appears to be
suited to activities requiring routine, repetitive behaviors.
The batch strategy, therefore, provides the basis for the
development of stable, predictable behavior reinforced by an environment
of investiture or social support. Investiture provides an atmosphere of
trust and mutual respect resulting in a potentially stronger commitment
to the organization and, subsequently, loyalty to the organizational
The above relationships or assignments are speculative, and in need
of further research, but they do suggest the practical application of the
results of this research. The findings also suggest that a major
reevaluation of the value of formal socialization programs needs to be
conducted. Organizations should question whether their current
socialization processes are contributing to the objectives sought or are
resulting in outcomes that are contrary to expectations.
When the consequences of early organization experiences are
considered in terms of performance, satisfaction, and productivity, the
importance of successfully managing the people processing strategies
becomes clear. The current research provides a step in the direction of
enabling the organization to achieve the outcomes it desires in the
management of its employee socialization program. This research provides